All About H. Hatterr goes on sale October 23, 2007
Recently, a reader wrote in about an earlier post having to do with a reading from Arun Kolatkar's poem cycle, Jejuri. In the post, I mentioned in passing that we'd be publishing a novel that was considered by the likes of Rushdie and
Auden Eliot to be one of the classics of Anglo-Indian lit, All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani. I would say that Hatterr is one of the books we've had the most requests to republish. And it's always a pleasure to be able to respond to such requests with a simple, "Done."
I could attempt a word or two about Desani's book, but so many writers more intimate with the work than I am have done it so much better.
We can start with the aforementioned Rushdie, whose name often comes up in discussing the book. This is from Rushdie's preface to Mirrorwork, an anthology of Indian writing, published in 1997.
The writer I have placed alongside Narayan, G.V. Desani, has fallen so far from favour that the extraordinary All About H. Hatterr is presently out of print everywhere, even in India. Milan Kundera once said that all modern literature descends from either Richardson's Clarissa or Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and if Narayan is India's Richardson then Desani is his Shandean other. Hatterr's dazzling, puzzling, leaping prose is the first genuine effort to go beyond the Englishness of the English language. His central figure, 'fifty-fity of the species,' the half-breed as unabashed anti-hero, leaps and capers behind many of the texts in this book. Hard to imagine I. Allan Sealy's Trotter-Nama without Desani. My own writing, too, learned a trick or two from him.
The quote is found on Amardeep Singh's blog. I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Singh speak—along with the inspiring Rita Felski—on the topic: " Literary Criticism in the Public Sphere" at last year's MLA conference. He also has an extensive post about Hatterr here.
Singh points us to the "In
Memorium Memoriam" statement by the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin.
Desani.org is a website devoted to the author. The "Talking Points" section of the site is fun.
And while we're at it, we've got some other books dealing with modern India in the classics list.